The role of sex-specific normative beliefs in undergraduate alcohol use

Dennis L. Thombs, Jennifer Ray-Tomasek, Cynthia J. Osborn, R. Scott Olds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Objectives: To create explanatory models of 3 undergraduate drinking practices based on sex-specific norms. Methods: An electronic, student survey at one Midwestern university produced a representative sample of college students. Results: Multivariate analyses indicated that close- friend norms were the best predictors of drinking frequency, quantity, and drunkenness. With one exception, typical student (or distal) norms had no significant relationship to drinking. Opposite-sex norms had associations with drinking above and beyond that explained by same-sex norms. Conclusions: The findings challenge the current application of the popular social norms approach that relies on distal drinking norms to provide normative feedback.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-351
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005


  • Alcohol
  • College drinking
  • Drinking norms


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